The Republic of Somaliland was established in May 1991, in what had been the northern regions of Somalia. The creation of this new republic was a direct result of the civil war in Somalia that began in 1982, when resistance to Siad Barre’s regime was first mounted in the northern cities of Hargeisa and Burao by the Somali National Movement (SNM). Two decades of Barre’s regime and the war that followed resulted in human rights violations on an unprecedented scale and conflict, which devastated the country.

Cities in the north, which had traditionally been centers of trade, administration and education, were left in pieces. In Hargeisa for example, 80 per cent of the buildings were destroyed, supply infrastructures like electricity and water were decimated, the schools left roofless and ruined, and the hospitals left without the most basic facilities. The cost was staggeringly high, with people left dead, wounded, displaced and impoverished.